Illinois rebounds with home win


Ned Mulka The Daily Illini Illinois’ Calvin Brock (25) rebounds a ball during the game against Iowa at Assembly Hall on Feb. 1, 2008. The Illini defeated the Hawkeyes 62-54 to improve to 18-4 on the season and 6-3 in the Big Ten.

By Jeff LaBelle

By the time the game was over Sunday, the Illini’s 62-54 win over Iowa was enough to set things straight.

It didn’t excite head coach Bruce Weber – or the players, necessarily – but it wasn’t a loss, let alone a loss like Thursday’s 23-point debacle against Minnesota.

Illinois (18-4, 6-3 in Big Ten) turned around its shooting from 29 percent on the field last week to 47 percent Sunday. After an all-around slump of a game and a short carry-over into this one, Illinois corrected some of its behavior.

After a first half of shooting 1-of-7 from three and 35 percent overall, Illinois went on to outscore Iowa (12-10, 2-7) by 11 in the second half behind 65 percent shooting from the field.


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Men’s basketball takes win at home

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“Obviously the second half was a little more characteristic of what we’ve done all season,” Weber said. “Again struggled, especially at the end of the first half, scoring the basketball, making shots, not getting good shots more than anything.

“At least they responded at halftime,” he added. “We told the kids it was going to be a hard-fought game.”

Amidst all the differences from last week – Illinois never trailed by more than four this time, for example – Dominique Keller couldn’t help but have flashbacks. Sloppy trips on the defensive end reminded him of the driving force behind last week’s mountain of mistakes. Weber mentioned repeated easy layups by Hawkeye Jarryd Cole, who finished with 10 points off the bench, as one such example.

“One thing you can always do is play defense,” Keller said. “I think that’s what we didn’t do in Minnesota. We were missing shots, but we weren’t guarding them and you know they got a lot of second and third chance points.

“We couldn’t get shots (again Sunday),” he added. “We tried to get closer shots in the lane, but our main goal was to stop them on defense. We knew somebody was going to start knocking down shots, a couple guys got hot toward the end … and with those continuous stops and those buckets, we won.”

Mike Tisdale knocked down the most shots and was the Illini’s leading scorer with 18 points. Keller added 12, and Demetri McCamey dropped nine points and seven assists in 33 minutes. Not until Illinois was up by one with less than nine minutes to play, though, did Illinois take control.

After trailing by three at halftime and leading 46-45 midway through the second half, Illinois went on a 6-0 run. Chester Frazier followed his own three-point miss for a put-back layup under the rim and Calvin Brock scored the next four points to help mount a seven-point lead. The score teetered at 52-47 for nearly four minutes after the Illinois run.

With less than a minute left, Illinois increased its advantage with free throws by Tisdale and Trent Meacham and hung on for the win despite seven Iowa points in the last 48 seconds.

“We got to find a way to win,” Weber said. “I said the other day, and I’ll emphasize it: we’re not talking about a Big Ten Championship – just one game at a time. We got to beat Wisconsin. If you do that, every game is going to become the most important.

“You got nine left,” he added. “It’s winding down very quickly.”